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O-licence suspended over road safety risks

  • 17 July 2014
  • By Roger Brown

West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Jones (pictured) has suspended a Telford haulage operator from running HGVs for two months after drivers worked excessive hours, broke speed limits and created false records.

In a written decision following a March public inquiry in Birmingham, the TC was told how in an investigation, a DVSA traffic examiner found several issues with the operation of Wendy Kerr, including that:
. drivers had been working excessive hours;
. drivers had been creating false records of their work;
. 10% of the driver records contained infringements;
. one employee had driven HGVs at speeds “clearly in excess of the speed limit”;
. Kerr also ran more vehicles than she was authorised to and did not carry out proper checks of driver records.

The DVSA officer, in a report to TC Jones, said he was particularly concerned with the road safety risks of a driver who regularly worked double shifts. In one instance, the same driver’s offences resulted in him driving for more than 16 hours within a 24-hour period. The examiner told the TC this was unprecedented in his experience.

TC Jones also heard that an employee had used another driver’s name for his own driving records, even though at the time the other driver was driving for another business. During the inquiry, Kerr and transport manager Robert Reilly gave evidence.
Both had attended a one-day training course before the hearing, with Kerr noting that improvements had been made and the firm was now compliant.

However, TC Jones found the business could only give oral assertions at the hearing. He had no tangible evidence other than the training course they had attended. Jones said the failures had stemmed from incompetence and neglect. Transport manager Robert Reilly, who said he had delegated tasks to a driver, had demonstrated a “woeful disregard for his responsibilities” according to the TC.

The TC added: “His lack of control stemmed in large part from his lack of knowledge and appreciation of his role.
“I am concerned that the road safety risks have been very real and that the competitive advantage obtained by the flagrant abuses of the drivers’ hours rules are such that fair competition requirements necessitate firm, albeit proportionate, regulatory action.”

The TC made an order to suspend the O-licence of Kerr for the whole of July and August 2014.  Kerr also had an application to increase her fleet – from four vehicles and four trailers to 12 vehicles and 14 trailers – turned down. The TC disqualified Reilly from working as a transport manager until he passes the appropriate CPC exam.

Jones also took action against the firm’s drivers, including disqualifying a driver who admitted to falsifying his records.


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